Dogs Worrying Livestock and The Countryside Code
We are seeing a worrying rise in reports of sheep being attacked by dogs not under proper control, and this week alone I am aware of two such incidents. Given many ewes are in the early stages of pregnancy at the moment, this is an incredibly vulnerable time for them. Simply the act of being chased can cause serious harm and distress to the animal.
Dogs must be always kept on a lead around any livestock and it is a criminal offence to allow a dog under your control or one that is your responsibility to worry livestock.
We will take any reports of incidents like this very seriously and they will be fully investigated. This crime causes significant stress and financial loss to farmers and is so easily avoidable.
There are an abundance of historic buildings, monuments, and areas of significant historical value in Norfolk. These areas are part of our history and afforded significant protection under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979.
The Norfolk Archaeological Trust (you can visit its website here: https://www.norfarchtrust.org.uk/) currently manages 11 of these sites, and its staff and volunteers work tirelessly to protect these sites and keep them open to the public. Sadly, their staff are increasingly being abused by members of public who fail to follow the guidelines around these sites. There have also been reports of criminal damage – incidents where people have daubed graffiti – at Burgh Castle and St Benets Abbey. Alongside the trust, we are encouraging visitors to follow the advice when visiting these sites, including keeping dogs on leads. If you see anything suspicious, please tell us about it immediately. Please call 999 if a crime is in action or you can report a crime online or by calling us on 101. If you would prefer to do this anonymously, you can do so by contacting Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or via the website: Give information | Crimestoppers (crimestoppers-uk.org).
Please also know that it is an offence to use a metal detector at any of these sites. Please contact us if you see someone using a metal detector at any of these protected sites.
Historic England – a national public body that assists in protecting our listed, schedule monuments -has lots of advice and information, including an interactive map so you can see all the sites of interest around you. Take a look here: Historic England – Championing England’s heritage | Historic England
Seals Around our Coastline
As we move into the winter months, the nature around our coastline changes. We spent the summer months educating people around ground nesting birds as part of OP Seabird, and now it turns to the breeding seal colonies along our coast most notably at Horsey and Winterton.
Many of the seals will spend a considerable amount of time on land with pups over the next couple of months. There are some key things to remember if you’re thinking of observing these fascinating creatures:
· Always follow signs/guidance at the site you visit (respect the volunteers)
· Never approach a seal and always keep 10 metres minimum away (no selfies!)
· Never touch a seal or seal pup (their bite is nasty and carries some very nasty bacteria)
· If you see a seal pup on its own it is likely fine, mum will probably be out fishing. It’s not uncommon for pups to be left for lengthy periods of time. Please do not approach or touch the pup as its mother could abandon it causing significant unnecessary suffering.
· If you do have concerns for the welfare of a seal, please contact the relevant organisations: the RSPCA, tel: 0300 123 4999 or the Friends of Horsey Seals (also cover Winterton), tel: 07706 314514.
· Never allow dogs to get anywhere near the seals, always keep dogs on a lead
· Leave the area as you found it, taking your litter home with you.
Appeal after damage to seal pup by motorcyclists – Sea Palling
Police are appealing for information or witnesses after two trials bikers were seen riding over a seal pup in Sea Palling
The motorcyclists on trials bikes were reported to the police after they were seen at the beach in Sea Palling on Beach Road during the late morning late morning on Friday (3 December 2021).
PC Thomas Walsh said: “It’s not clear whether the seal pup was alive at the time the bikes ran over the pup, but obviously this is a disturbing incident. We have a duty of care to protect the wildlife on our coasts and we are keen for people to come forward to give us more information. We always urge people to act responsibly and ensure the seal population is not disturbed and we will act against those who wilfully harm our wildlife.”
Anyone with information should contact PC Thomas Walsh at Norfolk Constabulary on 101 quoting reference 495 of 3 December 2021. Alternatively contact Crimestoppers 100% anonymously on 0800 555111.
Sadly, we have seen bird flu return this winter earlier than in previous years and there have been more confirmed cases than in previous years at this point in time. This has led the Government to reintroduce the housing order for all poultry and captive birds. This means that from now on, all birds are housed…whether you keep 2 or 3 chickens in your back garden or 10,000 birds on a commercial basis. This is a tough ask for some small holdings, but it is essential to break the spread of this disease. Biosecurity measures must be maintained and to the highest standards.
Avian Influenza (bird flu) is a notifiable animal disease. If you suspect any type of avian influenza in poultry or captive birds, you must report it immediately by calling the Defra Rural Services Helpline on 03000 200 301. Failure to do so is an offence.
If you find dead wild waterfowl (swans, geese or ducks) or other dead wild birds, such as gulls or birds of prey, you should report them to the Defra helpline on 03459 33 55 77. Do not touch or pick up any dead or visibly sick birds that you find. For further information, go here: Avian influenza (bird flu) – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has said that Avian Influenza is primarily a disease of birds and the risk to the general public’s health is very low. The regional UKHSA Health Protection Teams are working closely with Defra to monitor the situation and will be providing health advice to persons at any infected premises as a precaution.
The Food Standards Agency has said that based on the current scientific evidence, Avian Influenza poses a very low food safety risk for UK consumers. Properly cooked poultry and poultry products, including eggs, are safe to eat.
Norfolk Trading Standards has received a few reports recently of cold callers on doorsteps and this time of year, we usually see an increase in reports…usually cold callers asking about roof repairs.
The general advice is:
· Never deal with anyone on your doorstep.
· Anyone from a genuine business will provide ID and you should always ask for ID.
· Genuine tradespeople are unlikely to turn up unannounced to carry out any work.
· Never invite anyone into your property who you don’t know or haven’t invited to your address.
· Use a spy hole in the door or chain to see who is at the door before opening the door.
· Should you receive a cold caller at your address, please
report to police and Trading Standards. Remember to get as
much detail as possible and any descriptions.
While on the subject of cold callers, we continue to receive reports that people have had phone calls from ‘Police Officers’ requesting money to be sent, etc.
Please remember and ensure any loved ones know that:
• Police officers will never ask for any money to be sent.
• Police officers will not ask for your banking details unless part
of an investigation you are already involved in and know about.
· Police will never ask for any PIN numbers or security codes (the three numbers on backs of debit or credit cards)
• Police officers will also never ask you to purchase any form of gift card.
• Police will never use courier services to collect money or gift cards.
• Never give your banking details to anyone that calls you.
· Should you be contacted by someone claiming to be a police officer who asks for any of the above, please report it to us. If police contact you and you are unsure whether it’s genuine, please ask for their collar number/station, put the phone down and ring 101 and they will either confirm that is correct or not and help to reconnect you to that officer.
Hare Coursing – OP Galileo
There are low numbers of reported incidents this year and in the west of the county we are well below the usual number of reported incidents. In South Norfolk, there has been a slight increase in reports with PC Sue Matthews currently investigating one incident where drilled crops have been damaged. We continue to ask that members of public report all hare coursing via 999.
Cooking oil is becoming a very popular commodity and reports of it being stolen from businesses continues. If you have waste oil, please consider how you’re storing it and also make sure all your staff are aware of which company should be collecting the oil.
In the past month, six people have been arrested in connection with such thefts and two vehicles seized. The six people have been released under investigation while our enquiries continue.
Tool Thefts and Property Marking
Tool thefts have seen a small rise in recent weeks in particular from vehicles. This fits in with a national rise in similar crimes and is believed to be because criminals are looking for smaller plant items that are currently in short supply together with a buoyant second-hand market.
Please consider the following security advice:
· Mark your property overtly with a permanent pen or engraving (postcode and surname).
· Keep photographs of property along with serial numbers (we regularly recover tools/plant but struggle to get it back to the rightful owner).
· Only carry the tools you require for your day’s work.
· Do not leave tools in vehicles overnight.
· Where possible park in well-lit areas. Please consider if you can park with the back and/or side doors of your van against a hard object, like a wall, for example.
· Consider forensic marking your equipment
· Install a van alarm and/or CCTV within your vehicle.
· Advertise the fact your property is marked, and security systems have been installed in your vehicle.
· Consider use of GPS tracking on larger items.
What is happening in the countryside in December?
December in the countryside can look a little bleak; there are very few plants in flower or even green and the landscape looks a little bare.
Many of our birds this time of year appreciate a little extra feed from kind gardeners and as such many are rewarded with visits from the bird that lights up December: the Robin. If you own a pond of any sort, now is the time to think about maintenance as most newts and other creatures have moved out of the cold waters for winter so you’re unlikely to disturb any of them.
Hedgehogs will now be deep into their winter hibernation and while some may still venture out, it is very unlikely you will see them. Be very careful when moving piles of leaves and litter as they could be tucked up inside and be careful when preparing a bonfire. Ideally, move the pile of leaves and debris again before burning to be sure there aren’t any animals trapped inside.
Our waterways and lakes are now full of waders and ducks, many of which have arrived from the Arctic or Northern Europe.
In the farming calendar, it may be considered a slower month on paper but with farming it never stops. If the weather is dry, many will be still ploughing and preparing soil for next year’s crops as well as rushing to get the sugar beet out of the ground again. Farmers prefer to get this done during dryer spells as it does less damage to the soil structure.
Also, our winter crops are generally harvested at this time of the year, including many of our Christmas Day favourites: sprouts, parsnips, swede, leeks, and cauliflowers. In Norfolk, we have a number of these crops grown in the free draining soil of the west of the county.
Alongside all of this, December is seen as an important month for carrying out maintenance jobs and taking care of conservation areas – the laying of hedges (a traditional method of maintaining hedges which remains popular in some areas) needs completing before birds start nesting.
Livestock farmers are busy keeping indoor sheds clean and fresh and continue to meet the ongoing cost of feeding the livestock. That straw that was baled in the summer is now rapidly disappearing and the cut grass which was put into silage clamps or baled up is now a pleasant reminder of warmer months.